Although Lighty is back to 100 percent and practicing for the 2009-10 season, there had to be times last year when the Ohio State team captain had to wrestle with the emotional baggage that comes with being sidelined by a season-ending injury. And while Lighty admitted to wishing he was on the floor, he said the situation was never more than he could handle.
"There are moments like that in crucial moments in a game coming down to the end with four minutes left and I'm like, ‘Man, I could be in there helping the team,' " Lighty said. "I just look for the better in things and try not to worry about it too much. I can't control it, so don't worry about it."
By now, the details of Lighty's season are well known to fans of Buckeye basketball. After putting up a career-high 21 points in a Dec. 17 victory against Jacksonville, the team captain had an X-ray on his left foot that revealed a fractured bone in the foot.
The junior then underwent surgery and fought a losing battle to get back in action for the rest of the season, and a medical redshirt is pending. When he went down with the injury, Lighty held more career starts (51) than anyone else on the roster.
It was not until the month of April – a few weeks after the Buckeyes were ousted in the first round of the NCAA Tournament following a double-overtime thriller with Siena – that Lighty began to consider himself fully healed.
"I don't think there were any real mental hurdles," he said. "Once they gave me the green light to go I started doing as much as I could until it started being sore after playing so much or hurting if I cut a certain way, but that just comes with having surgery."
In early February, Lighty was cleared to start taking part in a few limited team activities. In the days leading up to the Siena game, he told reporters that he still had not been able to string together consecutive days of practice due to soreness in the foot.
"He hasn't shown any signs of any issues," Major said in mid-May. "He's become one of the guys again, so that's nice. It's hard when you get injured. There's not a whole lot you can do. I think he's re-energized to be back out there again, and it's great to have him back out there."
Although a number of players are going their separate ways for various parts of the summer, this year marks the return of all but one player from last year's roster. B.J. Mullens' defection to the NBA after one year of service in Columbus means that OSU will return 86.8 percent of their scoring on a team that finished fifth among Big Ten teams in scoring last season.
"This is my first time with (essentially) the whole team coming back," he said. "I'm looking forward to the season and seeing how things come about when we start playing from working so hard this spring and putting things together. I think it's going to be a real good thing for us that everyone came back. Hopefully we can make it farther than we did this year."
The season will not tip off for another few months, but Lighty already has a date circled on his calendar.
"Five months until the first game," he said with a smile. "I've been ready since I got hurt. I'm ready to get back on the court for live action. That's what I'm ready for."